Photo: Sunset in Phrae.

Saturday walking street market

Our rating:

One of our favourite Thai walking street markets takes place in Phrae’s old town every Saturday from late afternoon through until mid-evening. Make sure you go with an empty stomach and don’t make any dinner arrangements for afterwards!

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Khum Lue Road, 5.00 on a Saturday afternoon

Khum Lue Road on a late Saturday afternoon.

The market sets up as the sun starts to go down along the western section of Khum Lue Road starting at Prathu Mar (the West Gate) and extending two blocks eastwards to the junction with Wongburi House. This makes for quite a short section of market stalls though the location is pleasant, lined as it is by gardens, old wooden houses and temple grounds. And what’s the point in having a mile long market if it’s merely replicating the same stalls every 100 metres or so anyway? Phrae goes for quality not quantity.

Sunset nibbles

Sunset nibbles.

What we most appreciate about this particular walking street — being of a more nibbling than shopping bent — is the abundance of food and drink stalls. Yes, there are the usual handicraft stands selling various arts and crafts, carved candles, T-shirts and the ubiquitous Phrae indigo clothes but there’s also a vast array of local, foreign, unusual and classic nibbles and drinks, from fried insects all the way to take away English-style fish and chips and from iced cappuccinos through to freshly squeezed juices from fruits we’d never even seen before.

Freshly squeezed juice from some kind of sweet gourd

Freshly squeezed juice from some kind of sweet gourd.

You can wind your way through barbecued kebabs and sates, sizzling spicy north Thai sausages, deep-fried whitebait, grilled pork or chicken, all kinds of local fruit, sticky rice and coconut desserts; the list is endless and that’s why an empty stomach is imperative. Chairs are available at certain stands but it is mostly take-away, though we took our selected bites to our favourite Phrae bar, ordered some drinks and shared them with the staff. This might get you thrown out of your local at home but it’s perfectly acceptable here.

Not much use for the average tourist but photogenic nonetheless

Not much use for the average tourist but photogenic nonetheless.

We did the entire market — up and back, around 400 metres or so — without seeing a single foreign tourist though we did get plenty of comments from the locals who seemed delighted little Phrae’s market was having some international success and also that foreign tourists appeared to be enjoying their traditional snacks.

Busking schoolgirl

Busking schoolgirl.

Local school kids busking for pocket money is a folksy touch, adding to the all-round laidback, fun atmosphere. The crowds are not overwhelming and the vendors are not jaded, as you’ll often find in larger town’s walking street markets like Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai.

There is also a monthly version which comes to life on the first Sunday of every month along Charoen Muang Road. This is a sightly larger affair stretching from the old town gate at Rob Muang up Pharae’s main commercial street as far as Yantrakit Koson. It also starts late afternoon and runs until mid-evening.


Saturday walking street market
Around 16:00-21:00

Location map for Saturday walking street market

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What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Phrae.
 Check prices, availability & reviews on Agoda or Booking
 Read up on where to eat on Phrae.
 Check out our listings of things to do in and around Phrae.
 Read up on how to get to Phrae, or book your transport online with 12Go Asia.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Phrae? Please read this.
 Buy a SIM card for Thailand—pick it up at the airport when you arrive.
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